Henry Owen Becher Townsend (223)

Date of Birth: 1775
Date of Death: 18 Mar 1847
Generation: 5th
Residence: Malmaison, Castletownshend
Father: John Townsend [214]
Mother: Morris, Mary
  1. Fenwick, Sarah
  2. Homan, Anne
    • John FitzHenry [250]
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Henry Owen Becher Townsend JP DL

Married first ca 1810. Sarah Fenwick (dsp September 1817) was the widow of Richard Robnett of Dublin. Married second ca 1818. Anne Homan (1) was the daughter of the Rev Philip Homan of Surock,(1a) Co Westmeath.

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that Henry was taught by Mr Sandiford before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 8 July 1791 aged 16 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. Mr Sandiford also tutored Henry's cousin, John Sealy Townsend [507], before he entered the University in 1779.

Henry inherited the lands of East and West Myross and Kilcoe on the death of his father in 1810. However, some time after, the will was contested by some members of the family, in particular by Major Beresford Gahan on behalf of his wife, Henry's sister, Henrietta Anna Townsend [227]. Major Gahan contended that Henry's father was not entitled to dispose of his estate as he did and claimed that Henrietta was entitled to a share in the lands of Kilcoe inherited by Henry. A compromise was affected on 23 May 1819 in which it was agreed that Henry would have absolute title to the Kilcoe estate but would pay to Major Gahan and his heirs an annual Rent Charge of £88 per annum. (2)

Henry was appointed a Landwaiter (Customs Officer) in Dublin on 12 October 1810 and ten years later he was elected Secretary to the Commissioners of the Irish Fisheries in Dublin on 30 November 1820. (3) The second report of the Commissioners of Irish Fisheries:1820 in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ was signed off as a true copy by “H Townsend Scry” Irish Fishery Office, Dublin on 20 May 1821. The Second report on Irish Fisheries (Salmon Fisheries) in the same collection of papers was signed off by Henry and eight other Commissioners on 4 November 1836.

In the first two decades of the 19th century the Roma Catholic population of Ireland suffered massive deprivation caused by the failure of the potato crop and the knock-on effect on agriculture in general and the fishing industry. In response a Committee was established to raise funds for the relief of this distress and the Report of the Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Districts in Ireland was published in London in 1823. £60,000 was raised of which £5,000 was earmarked for improvements in fishing. As Secretary to the Board of Fisheries several letters between March 1822 and August 1823 from Henry are included in the Report. As part of the plan for administering improvements in fishing in County Cork the coast was divided into eight districts each with a nominated committee. Samuel Townsend [405] was a member of the Baltimore Committee (Toe Head to Roaring Water Bay) and Lionel Fleming, husband of Eliza Townsend [5D05] was a member of the Crookhaven Committee (Roaring Water Bay to the Mizen Head).

It would appear that Henry was a member of the Royal Dublin Society for a time. Whilst it is not possible to corroborate the facts, their records show that “Henry Townsend, Fitzwilliam Street, was elected a life member of the Dublin Society in 1814. His proposers were Thomas Nowlan and Major Sirr. He was recorded as an occasional attender of general meetings of the Society during 1820-22 and was deleted from the membership list in 1824.” The dates accord with his time as a government official.

The Turpin marriage settlements (see below) show that Henry was still living in Dublin in 1827. Sometime after this and prior to 1844 he purchased Malmaison in Castletownshend. Aldwell's General Directory 1844-45, page 91, records that he was Deputy Vice-Chairman of the Skibbereen Poor Law Union (4) - "H. Townsend, Esq., Malmaison, Castletownsend". His brother, Richard Townsend [221] was Chairman. 'Slater's Commercial Directory 1846' records "Townsend Henry Esq. Mallislanene, Castletownsend". (Malmaison is now called Bow Hall and was later the home of Margaret Champernoune Townsend [5A23].)

The Bandon Historical Journal No14 of 1998 contains a feature on a special dinner in the Ballroom of the Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bandon on Thursday 5 December 1839. The event was arranged by Henry, in his capacity as Chairman of the Reformers of the West Riding of the County in honour of Daniel O'Connell, the famous Irish political leader who campaigned for Catholic emancipation and the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament. There was widespread press coverage of the dinner and this is included in Henry's 'Scrapbook' and a short summary can be seen on the Durrus History website. (4a)

The County and City of Cork Almanac 1843 shows on page 132 that Henry was a Justice of the Peace- "Townsend Henry, Glandore, Rosscarbery". His brothers Jonas Morris Townsend [222], Richard Townsend [221], nephew Richard Townsend [236] and cousin Edward Townsend [411] are also listed as Justices in the Almanac.

The Cork Examiner of 12 May 1845 reported the formation of a Committee of Management to oversee the construction of the Bandon to Bantry Railway with branches to Clonakilty and Skibbereen. The estimated cost was £100,000 to be raised in 20,000 shares of £25 each with a deposit of £1-7s-6d per share. There were some sixty-six members of the committee including Henry, Richard Townsend [221], Horatio Townsend [6B01] and Lionel Fleming, husband of Eliza Townsend [5D05]. The railway was eventually built in the 1880s by William Martin Murphy.

There is clear documentary evidence that Henry had a close association with the Turpin family of Tullamore, King’s County, for he was a trustee in the Marriage Settlement (6) for two of the four daughters of the Reverend Peter Turpin (b. ca 1745 d. 1809). Both Peter and Henry married daughters of the Rev. Philip Homan of Surock, Co Westmeath. Peter Turpin married Henrietta Homan on 19 Jan 1790 whilst Henry, as shown above, married Anne Homan in about 1818. Peter Turpin’s daughters married as follows:- Mary Anne Turpin married the Reverend George Leslie Gresson (dsp), Vicar of Ardnurcher, Co. Meath, as his second wife in January 1826. Martha Turpin married Marlborough Parsons Berry, Barrack Master at Tullamore 1824-39 on 13 October 1827 and had three sons and a daughter. In the Marriage Settlement of the former Henry is shown as living in “Gardiner’s Street, Dublin”, whilst in the latter he is shown as being “of Dublin”.

Further evidence of the closeness of these families is to be found in the inscription on the rear of the first of the two miniatures in Henry's 'Scrapbook'. It reads "This miniature likeness of Henry Townsend third son of John Townsend of Shepperton, (7) Co Cork and Mary, daughter of Jonas Morris of Barley Hill, Co Cork was given by Mrs Marlborough Parsons Berry to John FitzHenry Townshend LLD, only son of the above named Henry Townsend. 14 July 1884". A mini genealogical tree in Henry’s ‘Scrapbook’ illustrates the relationships.

Henry witnessed the Marriage Settlement (5) of his nephew Richard Townsend [236] on 24 May 1819.

Henry died in in Castletownshend and this was reported in The Cork Examiner on 22 March 1847. His will was proved in the Court of Prorogue, Dublin on 4 May 1847 and he left his entire estate at East and West Myross and Kilcoe to his only son John FitzHenry Townsend [250].

(1) Anne died intestate. Administration of her estate was granted to Henry on 8 February 1840. When Henry died in 1847 administration of the estate passed to his son John FitzHenry Townsend on 12 October 1848. Lovera papers 223/1.

(1a) The entry for Homan in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "William Jackson Homan, second son of the Reverend Philip Homan was created a baronet in 1801. Sir William married Charlotte daughter of the 1st Marquess of Bute and they had a son Philip born in 1802. The Reverend Philip Homan held 2 townlands in the parish of Kilvemnon, barony of Slievardagh, county Tipperary in the mid 19th century. One was leased to Richard Wright. ''The Gentleman's Magazine'' records the death of Sir William at Dromoroe [Drumroe] in 1852. [Cramer Homer of Dublin owned 325 acres in county Tipperary. The estate of Joseph Loughnan, assignee of Isaac Homan, a bankrupt, at Mullindobrit in the barony of Slievardagh, was advertised for sale in January 1854.]"

(2) Lovera Papers 214/2

(3) Lovera Papers 223/2 and 223/3. The registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland contain 154 letters written by Henry between 1820 and 1833 on a wide range of matters concerning commercial fishing. Thomas Townsend [319] was appointed an 'inspector of fisheries for Cork district' in 1819 but it is not known if this was through the good offices of his kinsman. 'The Report of the Committee fir the Relief of the Distressed in Ireland' published in 1823 contains reports by Henry of the state of fisheries in Galway and Mayo.

(4) Poor Law Unions. Skibbereen Union containing an area of 3694 square miles had a population of 91,736. There were 37 elected and 9 ex-officio Guardians. The Work-House, opened 19 March 1842, was built to accommodate 800 paupers and on the 2 December1843 there were 265 inmates. The Guardians met at the Work-House on every Saturday.

(4a) James Redmond Barry JP, a Fisheries Commissioner at the same time as Henry, attended this dinner. He was also involved with Henry’s brother, Richard Townsend [221] in setting up the Agricultural & Country Bank in Skibbereen in April 1835 and was a member of McCarthy Downing’s Election Committee, as reported in the Cork Examiner of 26 November 1868, along with John Henry Townsend [238], Samuel Nugent Townsend [432] and Horatio Hamilton Townsend [6B05].

(5) Lovera Papers 236/1

(6) Lovera Papers Misc/2

(7) The entry for Shepperton in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "John Townsend held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £20 10s. Noted by Lewis as the seat of M. Townsend in 1837 and by Leet as the residence of Jonas M. Townsend in 1814. Shepperton is still extant but in poor repair."